Most family law judges in Westerville and throughout other parts of Ohio try to get couples who come in front of them to work out a parenting-time agreement that works for them. When they're unable to do so, the judge will often default to a standard plan that either Franklin or Delaware counties have adopted.
Researchers with the National Parents Organization (NPO) recently published a study in which they noted that 60 of the 88 Ohio counties' standard plans are outdated. They note that they give preference to the primary custodial parent, often leaving the nonresidential one with 20 percent parenting time.
A spokesperson for the NPO contends that it's been a while since most counties have revisited their default parenting plans. The current president of the Ohio Association of Domestic Relations Judges argues that while that may be the case, the parenting plans that judges institute rarely mimic the default standards, but instead take that family's needs into account.
Ohio unfortunately doesn't have a system in place for tracking whether standard or more personalized parenting plans are implemented. If they did, then it would make it easier for lobbyists to determine whether practices should be modernized. This type of tracking system led lawmakers in Kentucky to adopt new shared-parenting legislation earlier this year. Now shared parenting and equal time are the norm statewide.
As for 50-50 parenting, one Franklin County Domestic Relations Court judge noted that it's hard to achieve as children's and parents' work schedules often don't mesh. She noted that this is why many counties have different standard parenting plans depending on the age of the child.
The NPO spokesperson contends that Tuscarawas, Ashtabula and Jefferson counties facilitate equal parenting the best. The default plan in place in Tuscarawas was updated in January after having been the same for several years. Parents in the county have petitioned judges for modifications to reflect a 50-50 arrangement as a result.
While research shows that shared and equal parenting is in the best interest of children, it's not ideal for all. Sole custody may be more ideal if your ex has an alcohol or drug dependency, a violent or criminal past, works a lot or is negligent in their parenting. An attorney can make sure that your interests and your children's interests are protected.